Deciding to purchase a vehicle usually means you are planning to make a rather sizeable investment. However, when you require a wheelchair-accessible van or vehicle, that investment tends to usually be a bit more than that of a standard vehicle cost. So, just how much does a wheelchair-accessible van cost? The cost of a wheelchair van will depend on a number of factors, from the type of van chosen to the included mobility equipment and features installed. Plus, knowing whether you’ll be purchasing from a dealership selling wheelchair-accessible vehicles or converting your own wheelchair van could also influence the overall budget.
Converting an Existing Van
The first option you may decide to explore is converting an existing van to be wheelchair accessible. Creating customized wheelchair-accessible vehicles allows for the equipment and features to be exactly what you or your loved one needs — no unnecessary extras that would only drive up costs. It’s important to note, however, that converting a wheelchair van can require extensive auto body work, including raising the roof or lowering the floor depending on needs.
Knowing there are so many customization options, it’s hard to say exactly how much it costs to convert a van to be wheelchair accessible. Some factors to consider when determining the cost of a customized wheelchair-accessible vehicle include:
- The cost of the van to be converted
- What mobility equipment or features are required
- The type of ramp or lift required
- How much the dealership or manufacturer will charge in labor to perform the conversion
In general, a basic wheelchair van conversion will cost $10,000 to $20,000 on top of the van purchase price. When you begin adding more specialized equipment or more robust customizations, the costs could run up to $60,000 or even up to $100,000 over the vehicle purchase price.
Cost Breakdown of Wheelchair-Accessible Vans
If a brand-new conversion is too far out of budget, there is the option of purchasing wheelchair vans that have already been built or one that’s for sale in the used vehicle market. Much like converting your own vehicle, there will be factors that play into the overall cost of the wheelchair-accessible van, including:
- The market value cost of the van itself
- Cost of included features and installed mobility equipment
In breaking down the overall cost, what is the most expensive part of purchasing a wheelchair-accessible van? It’s the cost of the modification itself that raises the price tag on these vehicles, so the more in-depth work that’s been done, the more expensive it’s going to be.
Selecting the Right Mobility Equipment for Your Needs
Whether you’re performing your own wheelchair van conversion or you’re looking to purchase from a selection of used wheelchair-accessible vehicles, you need to consider which mobility equipment is ideal for your needs. This equipment is going to greatly impact your freedom and independence. When you’re choosing mobility equipment, there are several factors to consider:
- Assess your specific mobility requirements. What works for others may not be the best solution for you. Consider things such as your wheelchair size, whether you will want to remain in the wheelchair while traveling, and any other specific requirements you may have. Will you require a lift? What kinds of seating or securements need to be in place? Will you need specialized driving controls?
- Evaluate current accessibility features. Does the van have a ramp or lift system? How accommodating is the interior space? Is it easier to maneuver inside the vehicle, as well as while exiting and entering?
- Check seating capacity. Whether the van is for you or someone you care for, chances are you’re not going to be the only one to ride along. Consider how many additional passengers or caregivers you’ll need to accommodate.
Explore Funding Options Before Purchasing
Wheelchair vans can be an expensive investment that may feel out of reach for some buyers, but there are programs, grants, rebates, and more that can help offset some of the overall cost.
- State-Funded Vocational Rehabilitation Programs: These are available in every state and are designed to assist disabled individuals get back into or remain in the workplace. Many of these programs will provide funding to help make necessary vehicle modifications affordable.
- Department of Veterans Affairs: Disabled veterans or servicemembers may qualify for financial assistance which can be determined by contacting your local VA office. Information can also be found online for Automobile Adaptive Equipment through the VA. The updated Veterans Auto and Education Improvement Act also provides financial assistance for veterans to afford a wheelchair-accessible van.
- Local Charitable Organizations or Churches: Some local organizations and churches may offer financial assistance for disabled individuals to afford the mobility equipment and vehicles they need. Be sure to reach out to those in your area to see if any funding may be available.
- Mobility Rebate Programs: Several OEM manufacturers, such as GM, Ford, and Toyota, provide rebates for purchasers of new vehicles that require modifications for disabilities. Before purchasing a new vehicle to modify, check with an NMEDA dealer, such as Southern Bus, about any applicable rebates.
- Special Finance Programs: When it comes to financing mobility vehicles, there are some special finance programs available. You may qualify for a loan with an extended term, a leasing package, and more. An NMEDA dealer will be able to provide you with more information regarding special financing programs.
- Public Assistance: Depending on disability, or if you are on Social Security, you may be eligible for the PASS program. You may also qualify for other disability benefits, which can be found on the Social Security website.
- Grants: Organizations that are in place to help individuals with specific disabilities may offer grant programs to help those with these conditions by providing financial assistance. For example, those with MS may be able to reach out to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society for help. If there are any organizations in your area that support individuals with your specific condition or disability, reach out to see if they are able to offer assistance or guidance.
Explore Available Options with a Wheelchair Vehicle Rental
Still grappling with the decision of whether you should convert your own wheelchair van or purchase one already converted? This investment is not one to take lightly, so you shouldn’t jump into a purchase if you’re not feeling completely confident. Take some time to try out a wheelchair-accessible van before buying through wheelchair vehicle rental. Test out the available features in the rental to determine what will work for your needs, what may be too excessive, and what you feel may be missing.
A Big Investment Requires a Knowledgeable Dealership
When you’re in need of a van that is comfortable and accessible in a way that meets your needs, you need to ensure you purchase one with the features and mobility equipment you need. You also need to ensure it’s in your budget. Your independence is the most important part of finding the right wheelchair-accessible van, and not just any dealership can give you the help you need. Southern Bus is an NMEDA QAP Certified dealer, properly trained and equipped to help you make the most of your purchase and find all of the financial assistance you may qualify for.
When you’re ready to contact a wheelchair vehicle provider, reach out to our team at Southern Bus, visit one of our locations, browse our available resources, or shop our available personal mobility vehicles online today.